Description: Parish Church of St Mary
Date Listed: 11 May 1953
English Heritage Building ID: 28525
OS Grid Reference: ST6819469334
OS Grid Coordinates: 368194, 169334
Latitude/Longitude: 51.4221, -2.4588
5118 BITTON CHURCH LANE
Parish Church of
ST 6869 15/1 11.5.53
Anglo-Saxon origins on an earlier British site. Norman remodelling with inserted
Decorated and Perpendicular style windows. St Catherine's Chapel (north side)
added 1298-9. West tower 1370s. Late C14 chancel. Transept removed C15.
Restored in C19. Built of rubble with ashlar dressings and modillions to parapet,
later date roof. Consists of long 5 bay aisless nave, with 2 bay north chapel
(St Catherine's, now Lady Chapel) added by Thomas de Button (Bitton), Bishop
of Exeter, taller 2 bay chancel with priest's door, Tower and Vestry. Blocked
Norman south door with continuous order, see Keynsham Abbey (founded circa
1170) across the river, and nook shafts; the doorway was repaired in 1822.
Small, probably reset, Norman doorway to north of Tower (in Vestry) with outer
order of elaborated chevron forming lozenges and dogtooth (again probably ll7Os
or 1180s) and with a later moulded pointed arch inserted. Vestry fits in angle
of tower and Lady Chapel. Very good large 3 stage west tower with diagonal
buttresses supporting pinnacles on set offs and later parapet with traceried
and pinnacled crenellation, also with spoiled capped stair turret to north-west.
Rather narrow west door with royal head stops to label, large later Perpendicular
window over. Paired windows to belfry with Somerset tracery. Rood stair projection
to north with memorial tablets applied to it and rood loft windows to south.
Interior: Two sculpted feet above the chancel arch presumably indicate a colssal
rood (circa 1000). Former porticus arch in north wall gives the width of the
Anglo-Saxon church. Saxon chancel arch now masked by Norman chevron work of
1846 (by Rev H T Ellacombe). The Lady Chapel is rather smart Bristol work
with cusped rear arches, 5 bay sedilia and piscina with crocketted labels,
headstops, cusped arches and carved vaults behind. Printed west door with
flanking cusp-headed windows, ball flower-stop. Stop fragments in the Lady
Chapel include a carved hand of God, presumably from the Rood, and 2 coffin
tops, one with effigy, from the chancel. Chancel and vestry both have stone
vaulted ceilings. Nave roof of hammer-beam type, made from wood out of a wrecked
ship (cedar boards on oak) 1867, designed by H N Ellacombe who also designed
the pew ends. Marble reredos by John Wood II 1760. Numerous memorials inside
the church, in chancel John Burlie died 1627, John Seymour died 1663 (female
supporters and weepers), H T Ellacombe and 3 wives [in Gothic style presumably
designed by him in the 1820s or 1830s although he lived till 1885 (inscribed
as 188V)]. In the nave Francis Stone died 1641 (dated 1659), Stephen Roswell
died 1650. Also incorporated in the fabric are 2 strapwork panels from Barrs
Court (see Oldland CP) under stone memorial and over entrance into Lady Chapel.
For further information see:-
1. Persner's Building of England series, "The Vale and the Forest of Dean".
2. Church Guide.
3. Rev H T Ellacombe "History of Bitton Parish" and related papers.
Listing NGR: ST6819169336
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.